The University With a Soul. University of Vlora and the Reforms that Revolutionized Standards of Student Enrollment, Training, and Advancement in Albanian Higher Education | Erida PRIFTI
Abstract: With the world moving rapidly into digital media and information, the role of higher education is becoming increasingly important. Starting in January 2008, the University of Vlora is applying a modernization agenda through setting higher standards of scholarship, accompanied by curricular and governance reforms, causing changes to happen that are shaping themselves into an era of progress and rapid development, and planting a pioneer flag in the historical timeline of Albanian higher education. Differently from all other higher education institutions in Albania, and for the first time in decades of fictitious recognition of competency, the University of Vlora is striving to detach itself from the traditional oldsystem teaching mentality and methodology, managing through many struggles to be the first public university that is uninfluenced by the pressure of corruption and nepotism, and headed towards internationalization based on western standards. In its July 2010 edition, the Ranking Web of World Universities ranks University of Vlora number one among all public and private universities in Albania, a title that is well deserved and earned through genuine, untiring and unbiased efforts to reach out and aspire to be what the rankings call the best university in Albania. University of Vlora students are now studying in a university that offers updated curricula, flexible learning paths, and a fully functional automated online academic transcript system, a very productive application that combines online and batch processing to generate student transcripts, as well as to facilitate student-faculty and administration-faculty communication via a university email system. This paper explores the achievements as well as the challenges that students and professors are facing in this completely new way of learning and teaching at an institution of higher education in a post-Communist country. Data was collected using interviews, as well as open-ended and yes/no questions in a questionnaire. 100 students and 40 staff (faculty and administration) members of the University of Vlora participated in the survey.
Keywords: higher education, quality, university ranking, curriculum, university administration,educational leadership.
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